Pulling a Geographic

When I first heard the term “geographic” in AA, I realized these people truly had my number.  Growing up, I had moved with my family every two years because my father kept changing jobs.  He wasn’t an alcoholic, but he had difficulty getting along with his employers and co-workers.  So whenever things started to go poorly at his work, we would find a new city and start over.  As my dad pulled geographics rather than solve his career problems, I pulled geographics right along with him, conveniently packing up and escaping bullies at school and avoiding messes I had made with friendships where I had been disloyal.  Knowing we would not stay anywhere for very long, I began to live in a more and more reckless way, doing and saying things I would never have to worry about fixing.  In college I continued the geographics, transferring universities when I got in too much trouble at the first one due to excessive partying.  Like everywhere else I went, I ran into myself in the new location.  The next school proved an even more fertile ground for trouble making and I got my advanced degree in it.  Like my old man, I changed jobs like hair styles, each time marching off in a huff for not having been treated properly.  I stayed at one job for three years and thought I deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor for doing so.  My employers didn’t quite see it that way and could not wait to be rid of me.  Finally, after getting sober, I managed to stay in the same home for 17 years.  I kept one job for seven years and the next one for ten years.  I had a number of conflicts with people, but I used all my AA tools to sort them out.  There were people I avoided out of resentment, but eventually made amends and peace with them, and spent many years afterwards being on very good terms with them.  My upbringing taught me how to walk away.  But AA taught me how to stay.  It took a lot of unraveling for me to finally believe that you could make a mess of something without having to high tail it out of town on the next train.  You could make a mess and clean it up, right there in front of everybody, and it would be finished.  You could start over without packing a single bag.  When the going gets tough, the sober stay put.

Photo Courtesy of Rocky
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11 thoughts on “Pulling a Geographic

  1. ….you could make a mess of something without having to high tail it out of town on the next train-CHOO CHOO!! If I ever chose to leave again-it wouldn’t be by train-LOL!!! The wreckage is cleaned up from my past-but it was from exactly that-from one end of the US to the other-CA to NJ. I take the steps-and APPLY them in my life today. My famous last words aren’t-” FINE, I’m LEAVING!!!”

  2. I have found that there are valid geographics in recovery. Better Job, dream house, and health to name a few.
    In 2004 I moved 300 miles from northern to southern Oregon to take advantage of health opportunities (for me) At the VA facility in White City, Or.
    Once I got through my treatments and surgeries I decided to stay down south
    A choice that has had mixed results. (as most do)
    Sister Mary I will be traveling 600 miles north to Seattle for a surgical consultation at the VA Hospital up there. I will be going round trip by Amtrak and am looking forward to the trip. CHOO CHOO!

    • Enjoy the train, Paul. I love that I can make a living on the choo choo-and yes there are valid geographics. Have a beautiful trip to the Emerald City-….and fyi-this would be my kinda ride:

  3. During the last 15 years of my professional life a framed copy of the serenity prayer was displayed in each of my consultation rooms.
    As each person waited for the visit to occur they had the marvelous opportunity of reading and reflecting on these outstanding principles.
    Quite often I was advised that they had found the answer to a pressing problem in this manner.

    I love the paraphrase of the first sentence, “God grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change”.
    Most things I cannot change; most things I don’t need to change!

    For a busybody fix-it person like me, this is a revelation.

    JULY 31
    A PRAYER FOR ALL SEASONS
    God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot
    change, Courage to change the things we can. And wisdom
    to know the difference.
    TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 125

    Most of all I ask for discernment – wisdom to know the difference. 🙂
    This prayer has become more than a prayer for me. It has become a philosophy, a way of life. I spend not nearly as much time and energy in trying to force change on the people closest to me. My level of acceptance rises to meet the challenge of daily living.
    I’m Harry, grateful alcoholic. – Georgia, USA.

    • Harry I really like the original version better. “God grant me the grace to accept the things I can not change. The courage to change the things I should, and the wisdom to know the difference.

  4. I once moved to Detroit after losing my license for a year and drove around there for never getting pulled over for four years but by then I had a license. The cops seem me pulling out of a bar and said there was a drive off at local gas station Point is, I ran from the wreckage I created and yes, AA has given me the tolls to clean it up and stick and stay. I like the version of the prayer, ” God grant me the serenity to accept the things we can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know it’s me.” Gratefully I didn’t create any wreckage in Detroit that I have to clean up but moved home to avoid the addictions not knowing that wouldn’t work. It was in my face more than ever and the typhoon just got stronger. I am blessed by the rewards of living clean and have been invited to many sober party’s lately with karaoke, food and friends. It just keeps getting better! Peace!

  5. Thanks Zuzu. I never thought of pulling a geographic as such a broad all-encompassing term. That said, I’ve done this quite a bit in my time in relationships and jobs. In order to protect my ego it was always their fault and I would find a way to move on, still holding a major resentment of how wrong they were, never looking at myself. Thanks for your share. Peace

  6. I live in a big metropolitan area, and I made a whole lifestyle out of pulling a geographic without even leaving the area. I was as nomadic as you can be and stay in the same general area for…too many years. Schools, recreation classes, jobs, social groups–none of them intersected and I liked it that way. Because if I wasn’t getting my way in one group of people, I’d just go find another one and “start over”. Funny how many times I did that. Now I too stick around and it’s still a kind of weird feeling. Now I have to make sure I don’t go to the OTHER extreme and stick around when it really would be better to move on. Oh well!

  7. When I first got sober, I focused so much on not doing geo cures, I’d end up staying with something or someone to my or my children’s detriment. ( sticking with a mediocre pediatrician for too long). I finally was able when to discern when something was right to stick with and when it was legitimately time to change. Sobriety and AA helped teach me this!
    Love the choo-choo sister Mary!

    • Thank you Maggie!! Love all the shares today. I’m up and ready to start the day!!! The choo choo was good to me last night-I was off by 4am!! 🙂
      Tonight I secretary a 6pm in our town-a newcomer meeting. I LOVE AA-and giving back. My sponsee will be there-….none of this could have happened with out my first real geographic back to California-to start over! A new beginning after a metanoia!!!(Sister Superior taught me that word-I didn’t know the TRUE meaning until I quit drinking!!!LOL)

  8. It’s like the difference between transferring and transforming. I can move all over the west coast (yea I have) and transfer my old behaviors, my old thoughts and my old issues into a new town and new job and new friends, just like transferring my debt from one bank to another.
    Whenever I’m ready I can transform, and just like any other debt, it will likely include a slow recovery and a new mindframe. It can happen at the same bank or a new bank. The difference is new behaviors, new ways of thinking and letting go of the old. It’s a rare and wonderful thing to overcome the fear of the unknown and welcome this kind of transformation.
    I recently read a nice quote “Sometimes things must fall apart, in order for something new and wonderful to fall into place”

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